Authors: Chris Lee and David Holladay
Game developers are embracing industry-wide transformation and pushing the boundaries of gaming experiences. Developers would rather be building fun, innovative games that delight players, versus spending time and effort handling infrastructure. They need servers that can scale with tens of millions of players anywhere in the world at the lowest possible cost. Also, they need to optimize player lifetime value (LTV) with databases that can process terabytes to petabytes of ever-changing data, analytics solutions that can access that data with millisecond latency, and machine learning that can translate insights into new, immersive gameplay. Developers need purpose-built services and solutions to navigate cloud migration workloads from on-premises and onboard talent quickly and efficiently from anywhere in the world, leveraging the trend for remote and distributed game development to get to market faster.
To help customers through this transformation, we are introducing AWS for Games, which aligns purpose-built game development capabilities—including AWS services, AWS solutions, and AWS Partners—against six solution areas to help developers build, run, and grow their games: Cloud Game Development, Game Servers, Game Security, Live Operations, Game Analytics, and Game AI & ML. AWS for Games solutions simplify how game customers use AWS, making it easier to select the right tools for their desired use cases and reduce the amount of resourcing and investment required to adopt the cloud and achieve faster time to value. AWS brings 15 years of experience supporting transformation for leading game developers such as Sony Interactive Entertainment, Epic Games, Gearbox Software, Riot Games, Behaviour Interactive, Warner Bros. Games, Ubisoft, The Pokémon Company International, SundayToz, Redhill Games, Gameloft, and Kixeye. This initiative accelerates deployments across solution areas by connecting developers with industry-leading AWS Partners such as AMD, AppsFlyer, Beamable, Databricks, Epic Games, Incredibuild, NVIDIA, Parsec, Perforce, Slalom, Snowflake, and Teradici; as well as dedicated AWS industry specialists and AWS Professional Services teams.
In conjunction with the AWS for Games launch, AWS is announcing new services and solutions for developers including a preview of Amazon GameSparks, the general availability of AWS GameKit, and new guidance for Amazon Nimble Studio for game developers. Amazon GameSparks is a fully managed service built on AWS that makes it easy to build, optimize, and scale game backend features reducing time to market. AWS GameKit is an open-source solution that enables game developers to deploy and customize game backend features directly from a game engine with just a few clicks, reducing the integration of cloud-based services from weeks to days. Amazon Nimble Studio adds support for game developers and makes it possible to set up a virtual game studio in hours, scale capacity on demand, and create content faster and more cost effectively. These services and solutions are built on AWS’ highly available, highly scalable infrastructure demonstrated across the games industry with most of the largest game companies building with AWS..
“Cloud adoption has transformed the way games are built, distributed, and played,” said Bill Vass, Vice President, AWS Engineering. “Game developers continue to accelerate their cloud journey, build games faster, and run them with continuous updates, while growing their player base and play engagement. With the launch of AWS for Games and the new services and solutions announced today, customers can accelerate this transformation with solutions addressing the highest priority workloads and continue to push the boundaries in areas like game analytics, live operations, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
AWS solution areas for game developers
AWS for Games helps customers select and deploy the right services and solutions more quickly by aligning a portfolio of purpose-built AWS and AWS Partner capabilities against six key solution areas:
Cloud Game Development
Game studios often spend large amounts of time setting up flexible, secure, low-latency infrastructure to support remote and distributed development teams. With Cloud Game Development solutions, developers can create flexible, remote studios and deploy GPU-powered workstations allowing artists and designers to work on multiple large files in the cloud. These solutions also enable studios to build distributed development pipelines reducing the security risk of distributed hardware and intellectual property across remote employee environments, while using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Mac instances to build and test iOS and macOS games.
- Studio: Amazon Nimble Studio empowers creative studios to produce visual effects, animation, and interactive content entirely in the cloud. Now with new guidance documentation and AWS Cloud Development Kits (CDKs), game developers are equipped to create assets using popular software applications (for example, Autodesk Maya, Epic Games Unreal Engine), use popular version control tools (for example, Perforce Helix Core), and run Incredibuild to create a build farm that leverages Amazon EC2 Spot Instances, reducing build times and lowering costs. Additionally, Amazon Nimble Studio helps make game production a collaborative process by providing the ability to use multiple workstations from different locations.
- Workstations: Solutions from AWS as well as partner solutions from Parsec, Teradici, Tehama, Revolgy, and Epic Games allow teams to set up workstations that are tailored to the varied development tools and workflows required to develop a game, while providing a low-latency and secure experience for content producers.
- Build pipelines: Partner solutions from JFrog, Nasuni, and Incredibuild allow teams to build, test, and publish game versions that leverage managed elastic resources to scale on demand as builds are initiated while reducing the amount of time spent on build. Additional continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) configuration guidance is provided by AWS.
- Version control: These solutions allow teams to deploy hybrid and cloud-based version control systems that can scale with project size while ensuring assets remain secure and available. Solutions include JFrog Platform, JetBrains Rider, and Perforce Enhanced Studio Pack, and AWS provides guidance on distributed Perforce architecture including hybrid and multi-Region deployments.
- 3D world building: These solutions enable developers to realize massive, graphically rich, online virtual worlds where players around the globe interact, play games, and socialize with shared experiences. Solutions include Open 3D Engine (O3DE), which can be customized with AWS features and extended to meet specific world-building requirements.
- Consulting support: Engagement with partners such as Slalom, Globant, Six Nines, TEKsystems, Revolgy, and EPAM provides implementation support when and where it is needed regardless of geography or size of project.
By migrating its internal build pipeline from on-premises to AWS services, including Amazon EC2 and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Epic Games drastically improved development iteration times and its rapid release cycle to continually deliver fresh content to players. “We recognized some of the AWS instance types that we now had available to us resulted in significantly better performance. For our client compiles, we were able to reduce those times by 135 minutes, or 75%, which helps us iterate quicker.” – Alex Carberry, Infrastructure Architect, Epic Games
“Gaming is a massive and increasingly competitive market. As such, it is becoming more and more important for creators to optimize build acceleration in order to accelerate production and delivery without compromising on performance. As more and more developers move to the cloud, Incredibuild are thrilled to provide support for AWS for Games as they continue to provide their users with leading solutions – resulting in faster builds, less cloud guesswork, increased savings and ultimately, even more exciting games.” – Tami Mazel Shachar, CEO, Incredibuild
“Through our joint initiative with AWS for Games, developers worldwide can now enjoy Parsec’s low latency experience combined with AWS’ extensive suite for building and running games in the cloud.” – Benjy Boxer, Co-founder and General Manager, Parsec
Learn more at aws.amazon.com/gametech/remote-game-production.
Game operations teams are tasked to design, deploy, and operate dedicated server solutions to support highly variable global game traffic for session-based games. The Game Servers solutions allow teams to run games on the cloud at scale with secure, resizable compute capacity, while leveraging the AWS global network to provide uninterrupted player experiences on a global scale at the lowest cost. Whether a managed service like Amazon GameLift with Amazon GameLift FlexMatch, or the choice of Windows, Linux, and Arm-based compute options, session-based game infrastructure can be deployed that delivers globally distributed capacity and provides reliable, low-latency experiences for players while elastically scaling to match player traffic.
- Game infrastructure for session-based games: Solutions include GameLift, GameLift FlexMatch, GameLift FleetIQ, AWS Graviton2 instances, AMD instances, and AWS guidance on deploying infrastructure for session-based games.
- Global game infrastructure: AWS offers guidance for managed deployments of session-based games on AWS’ global infrastructure that includes 26 Regions, 84 Availability Zones, and 17 Local Zones. Additionally, services such as AWS Global Accelerator accelerated networking and AWS Outposts enable further reach and provide a low-latency, uninterrupted gamer experience.
- Game streaming: AWS offers advanced GPU-based instances powered by AMD and NVIDIA, allowing companies to deliver graphics intensive experiences to worldwide audiences, regardless of the type of device.
Leveraging services including Amazon GameLift, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon ElastiCache, the Roller Champions development team at Ubisoft is shifting its focus away from ongoing operational management to what matters most: creating online features and gameplay for its players. “We’re using AWS, leveraging a lot of AWS services, which has cut down a lot on human cost as well as operational costs… We don’t need to have months of preparation of allocating servers or getting the bare metal servers in for databases.” – Naomi Barnes, Live Operations Manager, Ubisoft Montréal
“Ubitus has leveraged AWS’ GPU capabilities to partner with IO Interactive to release a cloud version of Hitman 3 to a highly portable gaming device. With the introduction of Amazon EC2 G4ad AMD instances, we were able to fit up to 50% more concurrent streams per instance without changing any code allowing us to optimize our costs. The lower cost structure enables us to bring more games such as Hitman 3 to gamers globally.” – Wesley Kuo, CEO, Ubitus
“We are excited to be part of the AWS for Games initiative to further revolutionize how players and developers create, publish and consume gaming experiences. At EPAM, we believe in the power of open platforms. Partnering with AWS, we have helped many of the world’s leading gaming companies transform their cloud infrastructures, deliver exceptional seamless user experiences, and develop social services on a scale of 500M+ players.” – Vitalii Vashchuk, Co-Head of Gaming, EPAM Systems, Inc.
Learn more at aws.amazon.com/gametech/game-servers-networking.
Production teams need to implement additional functionality in launched and upcoming games to keep players engaged without incurring downtime or degradation of the player experience. Live Operations solutions allow teams to configure and deploy game service functionality to reduce development time and scale with player demand while improving the experience and increasing revenue through monetization and player acquisition/retention.
- Amazon GameSparks (new): A fully managed game backend-as-a-service launching in preview that provides the tools to simplify backend development. Developers can add the Amazon GameSparks SDK to game clients and create, customize, and deploy pre-built backend game features such as authentication, player messaging, managed player data, or create custom game features by writing server code. Amazon GameSparks is available today in public preview in the US East Region (N. Virginia).
- AWS GameKit (new): An open-source solution that enables game developers to add cloud-based game features with AWS Well-Architected backend solutions and retain the full ability to customize them directly from their game engine. AWS GameKit is launching with four features – Identity and Authentication, User Gameplay Data, Achievements, Game State Cloud Saving. AWS GameKit is available for Unreal Engine integration today in 17 AWS Regions where applicable, dependent on the availability of the underlying AWS services powering the game features.
- Game Backend-as-a-Service: Partner solutions include AccelByte Cloud, Beamable Live Game Platform, Epic Online Services, AcceleratXR, and Nakama. In addition, AWS provides guidance on deploying massive scale real-time messaging for multiplayer games, and serverless notifications for games.
- Operations and Observability: Keeping a game live requires not only the systems to track and support players, but also a holistic view of the systems themselves. Honeycomb, Cockroach Labs, and Sumo Logic all provide the peace of mind needed to run a live game service while partners like Code Wizards can get services up and running.
By migrating to AWS, SundayToz was able to optimize costs while still achieving scalability and stability. SundayToz can now focus on maximizing the user experience by posting a regular server maintenance notice in the game rather than stopping the service. “With only 20 server developers, we have been able to develop games, address server and infrastructure issues, and operate our services stably.” – Chang-myeong Lee, CTO, SundayToz
“We’re thrilled to partner with AWS. Together, Beamable and AWS provide a best-in-class platform for building amazing live games. Studios get AWS’ renowned scalability combined with Beamable’s workflows, industry-leading admin tools, and powerful serverless computing. This hyperefficient platform enables developers to build fast and orchestrate great experiences for players.” – Jon Radoff, CEO, Beamable
Learn more at aws.amazon.com/gamesparks.
Production teams have the need to collect, process, and derive insights from games that generate large amounts of data and need expertise to build, operate, and scale analytics pipelines. Game analytics solutions allow teams to configure and deploy purpose-built analytics pipelines that leverage managed infrastructure components to reduce operational overhead and complexity, and elastically scale to match changes in data traffic.
- Centralized game analytics: Solutions include AWS Game Analytics Pipeline and guidance for deploying serverless real-time analytics for games, and partner solutions Databricks Unified Data Analytics Platform, GameAnalytics, Couchbase, AppsFlyer, and Snowflake Data Cloud.
Using AWS services such as Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), WB Games is able to capture, ingest, analyze, and action insights to help developers become more opportunistic and agile with their approach to storytelling. “With the accessibility and variety of tools we can get on AWS, we can go from a business challenge to an idea prototype very, very quickly… having all of our data accessible in Amazon Redshift for analysis means that if someone’s curious, they can write a query and they get a result back.” – Shawn Connor, Director of Data Science & Business Intelligence, WB Analytics
“Personalization, driving smarter monetization, and executing with agility are the top priorities for every game tech company across the globe. Databricks is proud to partner with AWS for Games to unlock the value of big data, AI, and analytics for game tech platforms including joint customers like Riot Games, Sega, and WildLife Studios.” – Steve Sobel, Global Industry Leader – Communications, Media & Gaming, Databricks
“With unparalleled scale and reliability, AppsFlyer and AWS enable gaming customers to attract, retain, and engage high-value players while ensuring data privacy and compliance. We deliver real-time insights to gaming giants such as Funplus, Playrix, and Playtika so they can make good choices for their businesses.” – Ziv Peled, Chief Customer Officer, AppsFlyer
Learn more at aws.amazon.com/gametech/analytics.
Game AI & ML
Teams running live games must identify and address toxic behaviors at scale and encourage healthy interactions within player communities. For example, the Cohort Modeler solution on AWS allows teams to identify different player cohorts within a game community and detect toxic behavior and interactions to improve player experience and overall community health.
- Community health/toxicity: These solutions allow teams to identify different player cohorts within a game community and detect toxic behavior and interactions to improve player experience and overall community health. Solutions include Spectrum Labs Guardian for Games and the AWS Cohort Modeler plus deployment guidance.
- Smart acquisition and retention: These solutions allow teams to classify player populations based on game interactions to determine the course of action to take to increase acquisition and retention as well as optimize player long-term value. AWS provides Player Churn Prediction and Retention guidance.
“At Voodoo, we need to keep a millions-and-growing player base actively engaged. By standardizing our machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads on AWS, we’re able to iterate at the pace and scale we need to continue growing our business and engaging our gamers. Using Amazon SageMaker, we can decide in real-time which ad should be shown to our players and our endpoint is invoked over 100 million times by over 30 million users daily, representing close to a billion predictions per day. With Amazon Machine Learning, we were able to put an accurate model into production in less than a week, supported by a small team, and have been able to build on top of it continuously as our team and business grow.” – Aymeric Roffé, Chief Technology Officer, Voodoo
“For gaming companies, building the best player experience, free from toxic behaviors, will be the key deciding factor in which platforms player communities choose. Spectrum Labs is proud to offer Guardian for Games to gaming companies and developers in cooperation with AWS.” – Justin Davis, CEO, Spectrum Labs
Learn more at aws.amazon.com/gametech/ai-machine-learning.
With more games built as live, continuously updated games, attacks and hacks are on the increase and can cripple a game and create bad player experiences. AWS services for Game Security include AWS Shield, which protects against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and Amazon GuardDuty, which monitors for malicious activity and anomalous behavior, ensuring players have fun, safe experiences.
- Defend against DDoS attacks: Secure game servers and infrastructure from external threats and denial of service attacks. Services include AWS Shield Advanced and partner solutions from CrowdStrike Falcon.
- Protect against data breaches: Monitor game health, create dashboards to view the health and utilization of infrastructure, and monitor in-game errors and anomalies with AWS Services including AWS Security Hub, Amazon GuardDuty, AWS WAF, and partner solutions from Lacework, Logz.io, Sumo Logic, and a ransomware solution from Nasuni.
EVE Fraud System is a big data platform built by Sony Interactive Entertainment to aggregate transactional activity of users, resulting in substantially increased approvals with no increase in declines or chargebacks from banks. “We were able to reduce our latency from the current provider, which had taken about two seconds to assess fraud and risk, down to under 200 milliseconds, which is a pretty amazing feat. We are also able to improve our risk decline and accuracy, reducing false positives allowing more ‘good’ customers to buy the things that they wanted when they wanted to buy it, which is creating that world-class experience.” – Eric Krauss, Engineering Manager, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Learn more at aws.amazon.com/gametech/security.
To start building next-generation gaming experiences, visit AWS for Games.